Commodore's EPL Picks

Last weekend’s action got the better of me. Fleeced like some mug gambling away the spoils of pay day on horse racing, Arsenal were my saving grace as they gave it to Villa good and proper. Luckily, I’d foreseen such an event and gone large, although I still barely broke even. But all that is behind us now, along with the January transfer window, which was a tad disappointing. No last minute helicopter charters here, only a crafty Columbian from the backwaters of the Serie A. I’m going to miss Andre Schurrle – never got a fair crack under Mourinho. Apart from those deals, very little about deadline day excited me. I’d rather focus on football matters and leave the rest for the rubes. Let’s get into it, why don’t we?

Tottenham 9/4 draw 5/2 Arsenal 11/10
North London will become a warzone on Saturday as Spurs and Arsenal face off in a battle royale. Both sides flexed their muscles over the weekend, but it was the Gunners’ bug-eyed German midfielder that took the plaudits. Forgive my cynicism, but we won’t see another performance from him until April. Barring last year’s victory, Wenger’s side haven’t swilled success in this fixture for several years. However, I sense a change in their manager. Their victory at Man City showed they have the ability to win the big ones on the road, with the right game plan. Shut down Harry Kane, and they’ll get the win here. Chelsea know that’s a task easier said than done. But with Cazorla and Coquelin buzzing about in midfield, they could pick up a valuable three points, and the bragging rights in North London.

Aston Villa 17/2 draw 36/10 Chelsea 7/20
Villa were pitiful on Sunday. They’ve now gone over 10 hours without a Premier League goal, and their pursuit of Rickie Lambert on transfer deadline day tells me their manager is stark raving mad. Lambert, the Villa incarnation, is midway through his third season with the club. How, remains another question. This club is going nowhere under his tutelage. Chelsea await at the weekend, and another savage beating. Too big to go down – Newcastle and Leeds have shown there is no such thing. Unfortunately for Villa fans, owner Randy Lerner couldn’t care less what happens in the midlands, he’s got more glamorous things to worry about. A couple season’s back the Blues put eight on Lambert’s side. They might not reach that number on Saturday, but they might come close.

Leicester City 13/10 draw 9/4 Crystal Palace 2/1
Alan Pardew had me for a moment. Maybe I’d misjudged him? Perhaps he is a tactical genius – the next Bobby Robson. Or, perhaps not. A loss against Everton at home can change perceptions pretty quickly, especially this Everton side. Pardew will have the opportunity to put things right this weekend when his Palace side visits Leicester. The Foxes currently find themselves at the foot of the table, and although they showed spirit against United, they lacked class. Riyad Mahrez should provide them with that, fresh off his exploits at the African Cup of Nations, but one player doesn’t make a team. Palace were triumphant when these two met earlier this season, and a repeat result is on offer at 2/1.

Man City 2/11 draw 11/2 Hull City 13/1
City showed that there is life yet in their title challenge with an impressive showing at “the Bridge”. Even without the indomitable Yaya Toure, their midfield dominated their much-vaunted contemporaries, with Fernandinho in particularly good form. The test for them this weekend is a far cry from what they experienced in West London, with Hull City paying the Etihad a visit. This one will be a procession, mainly because if Hull can’t trouble Newcastle then they have no hope in hell of ruffling the champions feathers. This one isn’t even worth a wager, unless you’re backing City to win by any number of goals.

QPR 7/2 draw 5/2 Southampton 8/10
Harry Redknapp looks to be on the way to completing the trifecta for in his third season with QPR: Relegation, promotion, relegation. He seems resigned to the fact now, with even the customary “wheeling and dealing” on the final day of the transfer window too much effort for him. Or perhaps it’s that owner Tony Fernandes couldn’t bear thought of wasting any more money on another footballing mercenary. Either way, only their home form can save them now. It’s Southampton next for old ‘Arry, one of the many clubs he has some history with. The Saints are clinging valiantly to their place in the top four. I’m backing them at 8/10 to put things right after their surprise loss to Swansea at the weekend.

Swansea 8/10 draw 24/10 Sunderland 36/10
Speaking of the Swans, they’ve got a home match with Sunderland to contend with on Saturday. Now normally I’d suggest a home win and move on, but the Black Cats are coming off a rare win. The 2-0 victory over Burnley, courtesy of goals from Connor Wickham and Jermain Defoe, was just their fourth win of the season. The big ‘un little ‘un combination worked a charm, and manager Gus Poyet will be hoping for more of the same at the Liberty. The Swans have struggled for goals in Wilfried Bony’s absence, and Jonjo Shelvey’s strike on Sunday means he’s filled his boots for the season. Call me crazy, but I’m backing another Sunderland draw at 24/10.

Everton 2/1 draw 24/10 Liverpool 5/4
Saturday’s action finishes as it began, with a local derby. This time it’ll be the two merseyside clubs doing battle at Goodison Park. The Reds will come into this one full of confidence, and can probably be considered one of the form sides in England at the moment. It was at about this time last season that they launched their title assault and, with Daniel Sturridge back and scoring goals, a similar run seems in the offing. Everton scraped a victory against Palace, and a draw in the reverse fixture in September. Don’t expect the loan signing of Aaron Lennon to change anything significantly for Roberto Martinez’s side. Get on the Reds, who have a good record in this fixture, and can be found at 5/4.

Burnely 15/10 draw 21/10 West Brom 18/10
So Danny Ings remains a Burnely player, despite a late attempt by David Moyes to lure him with Margeritas and Paella to the Spanish city of San Sebastian. Instead he’ll turn out under grey skies at Turf Moor this weekend against Midland’s glamour club West Bromwich Albion. Poor lad. Tony Pulis’s side did me proper against Spurs, shipping three goals at home in a surprising turn of events. Serves me right for talking up their defence with the full knowledge that Ben Foster lurks behind the back four. Both sides sit precariously above the drop zone, and a win would do them well. I’m not a fan of punting on these types of matches, but if I’m to dabble, I’ll stick with the under’s markets. Neither team will want to lose here.

Newcastle 13/10 draw 22/10 Stoke City 22/10
Newcastle’s 3-0 win over Hull suggests that things are coming right for the Toon under John Carver. I’m not convinced. The Magpies have the ability to blow hot and cold like no other team in the Premier League – mainly down to the fact their side is made up mostly of Frenchman. Mostly. Their opponents on Sunday enjoyed a good win of their own, with John Walters claiming a perfect hat-trick in a 3-1 win over QPR. Unfortunately for manager Mark Hughes, the win came at a coast, with Bojan set to miss the next three months with knee ligament damage. Despite this, Stoke arrive in good form and could well trouble the Toon here. A dabble on the Stoke (DNB) looks well worth it at 11/10.

West Ham 28/10 draw 5/2 Man United 19/20
I’m not quite sure how to take Manchester United at the moment. They’re a side clearly confused with their identity, which isn’t helped by the fact that their manager has them playing a 4-4-1-1 with three attacking midfielders, two roaming strikers, and attacking fullbacks. It’s all a bit much isn’t it? Bring on Tim Krul for a penalty shootout and you can pretty much do whatever the hell you like for the rest of your career with no further questions asked. Expect Big Sam to counter with a 4-4-2 this weekend – the most quintessentially English formation ever constructed. It almost worked a charm at Old Trafford, if it weren’t for that pesky linesman (I’m sensing a trend here). I’m keeping this simple, like Big Sam. Back the Hammers to knock it in at 28/10.

And the rest is history, folks – like Fat Anderson to Brazil. I guess Ferguson wasn’t perfect himself now was he? Okay, in closing, I’ll take Liverpool, Arsenal and Ivory Coast at 66/10. I suggest you do the same. Sala Kahle.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Picks
Arsenal WIN 19/20
Chelsea WIN 7/20
Crystal Palace WIN 2/1
Man City WIN 2/11
Southampton WIN 8/10
Swansea DRAW 24/10
Liverpool WIN 5/4
Burnley UND 2.5 GOALS 6/10
Stoke DRAW NO BET 11/10
West Ham DRAW 28/10